A Ghost Blogger’s Thoughts on Thanksgiving Day

“There are many approaches to recognition,” explain Chip and Dan Heath, authors of The Power of Moments. Some are spontaneous and no-nonsense, some warm and caring, they note, but “what’s important is authenticity, being personal and not programmatic”. What’s more, expressing gratitude has a boomerang effect, elevating the spirits of the grateful person, the Heaths point out.

“99% of businesses undervalue the impact of thanking customers, and as a consequence spend far too little time doing it,” laments Oliver Bridge in a bonjoro.com blog post. Bridge cites a 2010 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showing that thanking people increases the likelihood of further actions by 100%. “In fact, you thanking your customer for their order can set off a chain reaction where they feel compelled to pass on your message, or thank others themselves,” Bridge adds.

On a personal note, with our traditional family celebration made impossible due to the pandemic, it would have been all too easy to allow myself to fall into the self-pity trap. Truth be told, on this Say It For You thirteenth thanksgiving, feelings of gratitude easily crowd out those negative thoughts:

I’m grateful, so grateful, for each and every one of our blogging clients. They’ve given to me and my team a sacred trust – the task of telling the world their about their businesses and professional practices – crafting tales of why they’ve chosen to do what they do in their own special way.

I’m grateful to each of the talented content writers with whom I’ve had the privilege of working, each bringing new insights to our virtual “workbench”. Each has embraced my long-held business vision of “the power of one”, with one writer per client, one client per type per market, and one-entity (the client) ownership of the copyright to the finished material.

Mostly I’m grateful for the opportunity, at this mature stage in my life, to continue doing such interesting work, work that demands continued learning about different industries, different professions, and different approaches to delivering products and services.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I feel fortunate!


Put Your Client’s Logo on the Front, Your Own on the Sleeve

Jeff Slain of Fully Promoted of Fishers IN was talking about apparel, but his advice is something we blog content writers need to keep in the forefront of our thoughts. Jeff’s common sense reminder to us Business Spotlight networkers the other day was that logo apparel buyers don’t want to tell the world about you – they want it to be all about them!

The “them”, we realize at Say It For You, can’t mean all possible visitors to your blog. Your blog can’t be all things to all people, any more than your business can be all things to everybody.   Yet everything about your blog should be tailor-made for your ideal customer – the words you use, how technical you get, how sophisticated your approach, the title of each blog entry – all of it out in front. The first impression has to be focused on things you know about your target market – their needs, their preferences, their questions – and only secondarily on how wonderful you and your staff are at satisfying those needs and preferences.

Successful content marketing addresses issues readers care about, with content that Josh Steimie, writing in Forbes, says must have three qualities -value, relevance, and consistency. The content is there to raise readers’ awareness of solutions, educating them about products or tactics they perhaps hadn’t considered before.

As a business owner or professional practitioner, you have not just one, but many stories to tell, including:

  • the benefits of your products and services
  • the history of your business and your own journey
  • successful case studies and testimonials
  • news of importance to your customers
  • your perspective on trends in your industry

A website with just a few pages cannot tell these stories completely, nor can it engage your potential and current customers with fresh content in real time. Truth is, no single blog post can tell all the stories, either. The key is for each blog post to get visitors engaged enough to hear today’s story.

The very fact that you have a blog and that the content on it is current says a lot about you and about the fact that you mean business! “You’re in the game”. You’ve got your new, fresh, logo apparel on.
The reality, though, (as Fully Promoted’s Jeff Slain knows all too well) is that they’re not going to read what’s on the sleeve until their interest has been fully engaged by what’s on the front!


It’s Not the Blog That Makes You Rich

“I’m not the guy that makes you rich; I’m the guy that helps keep you from being poor”. That unusual self-intro by financial advisor and insurance agent Jeffrey Eric Frank from Wayne, Pennsylvania really captured my attention at a recent virtual networking meeting, Of course, as a former financial advisor myself, I immediately understood the truth in Frank’s “motto” when it comes to wealth. Focused these days on marketing, though, I couldn’t help making a comparison with blogs…

Their very nature makes blogs ideal for marketing, Randy Duermyer explains in thebalancesmb.com, naming the following characteristics:

  • Blogs are inexpensive to start and run.
  • Blogs build website traffic.
  • Blogs are easy to use.
  • Blogs improve search engine rankings.
  • Blogs engage your market.

Blog marketing, though, is hardly a direct route to guaranteed marketing success; while starting a blog can be done quickly and easily, Duermyer cautions, it’s the ongoing management that will take time and patience. What’s more, blog marketing is not designed to “close” deals in the same way as a face-to-face encounter between a prospect and sales professional might do. Going back to our friend Jeffrey Eric Frank, the blog, however well-planned and executed, is “not the guy that makes you rich”.

What can and will happen, as Hubspot blogger Corey Wainwright explains, is that prospects who have been reading your blog posts enter the “sales funnel” more educated on your industry and what you have to offer. What business owners and professionals are doing with the blog is taking advantage of the main reason use the Web in the first place – to find answers and information.

Rather than running traditional ads for your brand of hats, vitamins, or travel, you provide lots of information on the history of hats, on why vitamins are good for you, and about exciting places to go on safari.  Consumers interested in your subject, but who never even knew your name come to see you as a trusted resource, possibly as a business to do business with!

No, New York Life’s JE Frank doesn’t for a moment pretend to be the guy who’ll make you rich. And, at Say It For You, we approach blog marketing with the same sort of practical wisdom in mind. Blogging is a very good “back door” approach to sales, helping you cultivate an audience of people who may well move on to become buyers.


Building Your Unique Selling Proposition

Today’s guest blog post was contributed by Certified Business Coach Andrew Valley of Westerfield, Ohio. With over 40 years of experience managing businesses and team, Valley has a proven track record of growing sales and profits.  The ActionCoach may be contacted at andrewvalley@actioncoach.com or by phone at 614 746 5969.

Don’t tell them what you do. Tell them what you do for them.

As a business owner, whether you’re a trades-based business, a restaurant, or are in professional services, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is telling others what you do. Most people are only interested if what you do fits with what they need or want; otherwise they are not interested. You must tell the listener how your product or service can benefit that person, and how you can do it better or differently than others who do what you do.

So how can you differentiate your business from others in your category? The most powerful tool you can use to stand head and shoulders above your competition is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP communicates the singular, unique benefit that your customers can expect to receive when they favor your business instead of your competitor’s – stated in specific, graphically illustrated terms. It will make you the obvious choice and lead prospective customers to the conclusion, “I would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone but you…regardless of price.”

A USP Will Raise Your Business Above The NOISE

Our communication habits spill over into marketing and advertising all the time. Show me 99% of all marketing material created and I’ll show you a huge jumble of hyperbole, fluff, platitudes, and yawnably unbelievable, black hole nothing words. Words like cheapest, professionalism, service, quality, speedy, convenient, and best. These words do absolutely nothing to communicate why you’re the best deal. Claude Hopkins, the greatest advertising man in history, summed it up: “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. They leave no impression whatsoever.”

The concept of “USP” is credited to Rosser Reeves, chairman of the Ted Bates & Co. advertising agency in the 1950s, and his definition of what makes a USP holds true today: * All advertising must make a proposition to the customer: Buy this, and you will receive a specified benefit.

  • The proposition must be unique; something competitors cannot claim or have not chosen to emphasize in their promotions.
  • The proposition must be so compelling that it motivates individuals to act.

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a succinct, memorable message that identifies the unique benefits that are derived from using your product or service as opposed to a competitor’s. A USP should be used as a strong and consistent part of an advertising campaign. It can be painted on the company’s cars or trucks, printed on the letterhead, and used in the packaging copy. It becomes, essentially, a positioning statement—a declaration of your company’s unique standing within the marketplace as defined by your product’s benefits.

Often a USP is a quick and snappy condensation of the company’s strategy. To expect consumers to remember a continually changing or drawn-out message is a near-futile hope. It is particularly important that a USP immediately convey one of the strongest competitive advantages of using your product. Marketers should strive to create a significant perception of difference between their product and the offerings of competitors. Developing a USP that accomplishes this task is called product differentiation.

Here’s an example of an effective USP from a well-known company in an extremely competitive industry. This company became the biggest in their field entirely because of their USP. The company is Domino’s Pizza. Consider Domino’s USP: “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed!” This USP built Domino’s into a pizza empire!

Things to Consider in building your USP
Study your Competitors: research what they are using as a USP. It is difficult and expensive to challenge a competitor for a position already occupied, because of the “anchoring” phenomenon. When you know your competitors’ positions, you can choose to avoid direct challenges and instead carve out your own niche, where you can be both first and best. The easiest way into a person’s memory is to be first. Don’t be an also-ran.

Differentiate your Product or Service: Your prospects must see you as having something different, something special that sets you apart from the others in your industry. Otherwise, there is no reason for them to call you. They may call your competition, or they may decide not to call anyone at all. So, consider these questions:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you’re different
  • How you can benefit your prospects – a feature may be useful but a benefit is a solution to a problem or a fulfillment of a need.

There should be a lot of difference between you and others doing the same kind of work. If there aren’t then you’re not paying close enough attention or you need to invent some unique things that others don’t do.

What else can you do?
Brainstorm with your team. Interview and survey your current and past customers. Ask them why they bought from you rather than your competition. What are they looking for in a provider of your product or service? What is important to them when making a buying decision? What feature or benefits do they value most or would like to see added to your product or service?

Once you have settled on the most unique and compelling feature of your product or business, begin to distill it down to one paragraph that clearly communicates and sums up why your customers should buy from you. This paragraph can be used on your website or in your marketing materials where you have more room to explain the unique benefits that you bring to your customers. However, it is still too long to be used as a tagline or slogan.

You still need to distill your USP down to one or two focused sentences that clearly and concisely communicate the benefits of your USP to your customers. This statement should leave no question in your customers’ mind about what you do and how you are different than your competition.
This USP statement will become your tagline or slogan. Integrate your USP statement into everything you do. Put it on every page of your website, on your letterhead, in all of your advertising and marketing. Communicate it to your employees, managers, and staff. Let it infuse into your corporate culture. Every time you talk to your customers, employees, or suppliers you should mention this USP. You cannot just give lip service to your USP, you must live it and breath it! It must become a part of you.

Every product, business or service has (or can have) a USP that makes it stand out from the competition. It is up to you to discover or create this element of uniqueness. Differentiate yourself, your business and your products from your competition and watch the sales pour in!


Blogging to Help X Do Y

“Ultimately, your company profile matters. It can intrigue a new visitor to check out your products or services in more detail, and nudge potential customers into choosing your business over competitors,” Caroline Forsey writes. Forsey uses the Starbucks company profile as an example, incorporating the company’s mission, background story, products, and even folklore regarding its name.

All that material makes excellent fodder for website content, I thought. When it comes to blog marketing, however, I liked the very simple model for a business profile offered by Linked In sales enabler Missy Parrish: – “We help X to do Y”.

At Say It For You, we teach, blog content writers’ initial focus must be on the X. Even if your products and services are top-rate, that’s not enough to keep content fresh and make conversions happen. Your knowledge of the target audience has to influence every aspect of your blog. In fact, the very essence of content marketing is not “pitching” prospects and customers, but providing content that is truly relevant and useful to them

What about the Y? Most of the time, I explain to newbie blog content writers, at stage #1 of their search, online readers don’t know the name of the individual, the business, or the practice they want. What most consumers are likely to type into the search bar are words describing:

1.  their need
2. their problem
3. their idea of the solution to their problem
4.  a question

That means telling those visitors (the X) about the things you can help them learn and the things you can help them do (the Y) is what is most likely to lead to a next step. Always keep in in mind that, when you’re blogging, you’re talking to a friendly and interested audience about things that might help them (as opposed to forcing your message in front of people who are trying to avoid it).

What if you have more than one X and more than one Y? In fact, most business owners and professional practitioners tell me they have more than one target audience for their products and services. There may be one demographic that accounts for the majority of their customers, but they also have “outliers” who bring in just enough revenue to matter.

That is precisely the beauty of blog marketing. In fact, what you don’t want is an all-in-one marketing tool that forces a visitor to spend a long time just figuring out the 99 wonderful services your company or practice has to offer.  Each blog post will offer just enough to convey to individual searchers they’ve come to the right place (which they will have, based on the search terms they used).

Your welcome to those very visitors is the message conveyed in that very blog post: You help X’s like them to do Y!